Cleaning Your Refrigerator’s Hidden Parts

You know that big, hulking thing in your kitchen that keeps your milk icy cold and the ice cream too hard to scoop? Well, it needs some tender loving care to keep it working at its best. Yes, we’re talking about cleaning the refrigerator! Only, not the parts you normally think of when cleaning the ‘fridge comes up.

We’re not talking about tossing those ‘science experiments’ that lurk in dark corners or even wiping down the shelves and crispers. Instead, these are the areas that are out of sight and easy to forget when you’re cleaning the rest of the refrigerator.


The seals around the doors keep the cold air inside where it belongs. Over time, crumbs and condensation can build up in their deep grooves. That combination translates into mold and mildew. Yuck!

Not only is that build-up nasty, but it can cause the gaskets to lose their ability to seal properly. A seal that isn’t ‘sealing’ properly wastes energy and puts a strain on your refrigerator’s compressor.

Clean them at least twice a year, but preferably every three months. Think of the time you spend doing it as an investment in your refrigerator’s longevity.

  1. Gently pull the seal open to expose the grooves.
    Brush away any crumbs.
  2. Scrub with an old toothbrush and a mixture of 1/4 cup baking soda mixed with 2 quarts warm water.
  3. Rinse thoroughly.
  4. Wipe with undiluted white vinegar. Vinegar will act to help prevent future mold or mildew growth. Allow to dry.
  5. Wipe thoroughly with a soft towel. Any moisture left behind could dilute the vinegar and encourage mold or mildew to return.

Condenser Coils

These look kind of like a radiator and disperse the heat from the compressor. They’re located either on the back or beneath the refrigerator and they are dust and pet hair magnets!

That kind of build-up forces your refrigerator to work harder than it should. You’ll pay the price for neglecting those coils in higher energy bills and a shortened life expectancy for the ‘fridge. Clean them every three months – once a month if you have pets.

  1. Unplug it.
  2. Pull it out from the wall or remove the grill on the bottom front.
  3. Vacuum the coils thoroughly. Alternately, use a long-handled brush to sweep away all the dust, hair, and debris.
  4. Replace the grill or push it back against the wall.
  5. Don’t forget to plug it back in!

Drip Pan

Modern, frost-free refrigerators stay that way because the coils warm up slightly every few hours to melt any frost that’s forming. That moisture drains into a shallow pan beneath the refrigerator.

Clean the pan occasionally with warm, soapy water to prevent bacterial growth. Check your refrigerator’s manual for specific directions on how to access the pan and how often to clean it.

If you set up a regular schedule, and mark it on a calendar, you can spread the cleaning out. That way it isn’t as intimidating as if you tried to tackle everything at once. We’re guessing your refrigerator will thank you for your attention to its hidden parts!